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Player Outlooks (2023)
QB Desmond Ridder: The pieces are in place for Atlanta’s offense to make significant strides this season, but Ridder might be operating a slow-playing, low-volume passing attack that puts a cap on his statistical ceiling—and the Falcons have a very thin receiving corps behind Drake London. Ridder will probably need to use his legs more and make a big jump to be more than a low-end QB2 option, and Taylor Heinicke is in the bullpen if there are early struggles.
QB Taylor Heinicke: If he ends up making starts this year, Heinicke might be willing to be more aggressive throwing to Drake London and Kyle Pitts, but similar to Ridder, the production might be capped with the Falcons playing through Bijan Robinson and not having a ton of pass-catching depth. Heinicke would be a matchup-based streamer in Superflex leagues.
RB Bijan Robinson: Robinson is in a great spot to immediately become a big-time fantasy contributor, as the Falcons drafted him in the top ten, and Arthur Smith wants to build his offense through the running game. Most importantly, the former Texas standout is the total package at the position with a three-down skillset, and Atlanta has an excellent offensive line to open holes for the rookie. Consider Robinson an immediate RB1 option that will churn out tough yardage, break chunk plays, and thrive in a variety of ways as a pass-catcher.
RB Tyler Allgeier: Unfortunately for dynasty owners who invested in Allgeier, he’s now entrenched as the backup to Bijan Robinson—despite strong play down the stretch in 2022 (including 79 carries for 431 yards and two touchdowns over the final four games). Perhaps there will be a good number of traditional carries for Allgeier based on Bijan’s versatility, but he might be more of a handcuff than standalone value on an offense that already struggled to get consistent opportunities for Kyle Pitts and Drake London.
RB Cordarrelle Patterson: Patterson quietly scored eight rushing touchdowns in just 13 appearances last season— and he started on fire with two games of 120+ rushing yards and a score across the first three weeks before suffering a knee injury. But he’ll now split time with Tyler Allgeier as the backup, and the four-time All-Pro returner might be a better real-life contributor. That’s especially true with frustrating usage as a receiver considering his skillset (211 receiving yards over his past 21 games).
WR Drake London: London appeared to be on his way to a Rookie of the Year campaign based on the first three weeks last season (16 receptions for 214 yards and two touchdowns, plus a successful two-point conversion), but Atlanta pulled back the passing attack after that until the No. 8 overall pick was again featured over the final five games (9.6 targets and 85.6 receiving yards per game). Advanced development from Ridder is the best chance for London to reach his fantasy ceiling, and he should be drafted as a midrange WR2 that can finish higher if he explodes with double-digit touchdowns.
WR Mack Hollins: The Falcons project to be a very top-heavy offense in 2023, so Hollins might be best viewed as a role player that’s too inconsistent to be counted on for weekly FLEX value. The 29-year-old is coming off a career-best 57/690/4 line with Las Vegas, but he’ll need to form a connection with Desmond Ridder like he did Derek Carr, and Hollins previously hadn’t had more than 226 yards in a season.
WR Scotty Miller: Miller is in a similar situation to Hollins, and both guys might be used as field-stretchers with limited statistical appeal. One positive is that Desmond Ridder showed a nice deep ball in college, so perhaps there will be enough downfield shots for Miller to emerge based on the flashes shown with the Buccaneers in previous seasons.
WR KhaDarel Hodge: The advantage Hodge has for the No. 2 job is familiarity with the offense after spending last season with the Falcons, and he showed well by catching 13 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown while averaging 10.1 yards per target. Again, the issue is how the offense is structured, but Hodge wouldn’t be the first player to breakout late if he shines in his age-28 season.
WRs Frank Darby and Penny Hart: Darby has caught two passes across the past two seasons with Atlanta, and he’ll be battling with Hart for snaps as depth on the Atlanta offense. We might give the edge to Hart—who was primarily a special-teamer with Seattle over the past three years—as the more likely option to earn “gadget” touches, but it’d be unlikely to result in reliable fantasy value.
TE Kyle Pitts: The Falcons couldn’t get Pitts going last season with 6.0 yards per target (compared to 9.3 yards per target as a rookie), and many have expressed concern about him simply not reaching superstar heights as the former fourth-overall pick. That said, we 100% believe in his upside, and it would be foolish to give up on a 22-year-old (turning 23 in October) that Bill Belichick previously compared to Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez. The usage needs to improve, and hopefully Atlanta having a full offseason to self-scout will result in high-end TE1 production for Pitts.
TE Jonnu Smith: Smith didn’t reach expectations in New England, but he’ll now join a familiar system under Arthur Smith after the two were together with the Titans—and Atlanta could lean on multiple tight ends to boost the running game and make up for their lack of depth at wide receiver. Although consistent value will be difficult to come by, Smith should have some strong weeks and see quite a bit of playing time.
Best IDP value: LB Kaden Elliss
Elliss quietly recorded 7.0 sacks last season with the Saints, and he should be used similarly in Atlanta by coming over with new defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen—who was the co-DC for New Orleans in 2022. Playing being a bolstered defensive front, Elliss will handle traditional linebacker duties and be used to get after the quarterback.
Stat to know (via draft guide)
Desmond Ridder fumbled three times in four starts last season, and Taylor Heinicke received the biggest contract for a backup quarterback this offseason (two years, $14 million).